God’s Word of Justice
Isaiah 58:1-14: Today’s passage discusses the meaning of true worship. Outwardly, the people had continued to worship the LORD. They brought the required sacrifices and offerings, fasted on holy days, and did acts of repentance for their sins. Yet Isaiah proclaims that the LORD says these acts of worship are meaningless if the people do not treat each other with respect and justice.
1The Lord says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshiping me.”
3The people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?”
The Lord says to them, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that?
6“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
8“Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.
“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”
The Reward for Keeping the Sabbath
13The Lord says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Today’s Key Verse: Isaiah 58:6
[The LORD says:] “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free.”
This passage suggests that true worship is not only about praising God; it is also about the ways in which we treat one another. What actions must one take in order to participate in true worship, according to what Isaiah has proclaimed? What does God promise to those who put an end to oppression, hunger, and suffering? What does this passage mean to you?
God of justice, teach me to worship you through more than rituals and praise. Help me to worship you through acts of justice and fairness. May your glory be manifest through the welfare of all people. Amen.
Isaiah 59:1-21: The sins of the people are condemned.